Two days ago, my mother turned 82.
My mother is titan and tender, both. I do not know anyone stronger, and this has to be great burden for her. She has faced pains and trials too great for a well-bred beautiful hopeful woman to face. But face them she has, with grace and grit.
This snippet of her life is illustration: she skated in the Ice Follies. She was one of the bespangled beauties who learned to live out of a train and share glamor and thrill with audiences and do you remember the finale of the Ice Follies?
A kick line was created. A spinning line made of skaters linked one to the other. Those joining the line waited on either side of the rink to skate for all they were worth to link up to the circling spectacle. It was easy for the early joiners. But as each skater was added to the line, the line got longer and harder and harder to catch. Sometimes the show ended with the last skater pushing harder and harder and harder to catch a spinning line that eluded her. It becomes clear she will never link up. The audience cheered and groaned, both, since they wanted the determined skater to find success and they knew in their own souls the humiliation of public less-than-perfect.
My mom was the last skater. She would pump her heart and legs and determination to join that line. Sometimes with success. Sometimes not.
A year ago, she was hit from behind on the freeway. Her car rolled a number of times. We got the call no child wants to get – the call that intimates that the author of your childhood heart is in peril. She was in rough shape, broken of pelvis and bruised of body and for a time, we sat with her as she weighed the living or the dying of her days.
She lives. She is walking miles a day and managing her brood and pain of body and heart are real and she lives yet.
Around her, things are dying: her sister, the cognition of her brother, the fantasy of a family Walton-esque, friends, and some of her passions.
But the flame of life that is Barbara Jane Fawcett Macaulay Forrest is fierce and honed and hungry yet for meaning and she is much alive. And the world is better for this.
Mothers and daughters live with hearts close. Our hopes for each other are dense and complicated. We are the other, we are ourselves, we are wildly different and we are often heartbreakingly lonely for each other: for the was and the is and the might have been.
And, my mother is that last skater, determined to do the impossible: to do it with grace and with grit and to make it look good in the doing.
Happy birthday, mom.